31 May 2014

Mark Spitznagel Uses a Chokehold to Teach His Brother About Mises

Austrian School 3 Comments

OK not quite. But some of you will find this NYT magazine story by Eric Spitznagel cute. (Mark Spitznagel is the author of The Dao of Capital, for which I was a consultant on the chapters dealing with Austrian theory.) Some excerpts:

For the last four years, my brother and his family lived in a house with a moat. The house — a four-bedroom French villa in Bel Air previously owned by Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony — is pretty impressive even without the moat, but that unnecessary protective trench gives the house a certain surreal charm. It’s nice to know that when you visit your family for the holidays, you don’t have to worry about Spanish conquistadors.

I asked him once what he does, and here’s how he explained it: “I exploit the distortions of our interventionist monetary policy as they manifest themselves in the financial markets. I do this specifically using very asymmetric payoffs of derivatives.” Make sense? If it does, then you’re probably rich, too.

When he suddenly had more money than Bruce Wayne, it seemed as if we had even less to talk about. I still adore him, but our lives became fundamentally different. During the last election, I felt that I was making a political statement with my Obama bumper sticker. Mark hosted a $2,500-a-plate campaign fund-raiser for Ron Paul at his house. Yes, the one with the moat.

But something changed last summer. I was in Los Angeles on business, and I spent the night at my brother’s place. I had dinner with him and his family, and then we stayed up far too late drinking very (very) expensive Scotch. As we do every time we’re together, we tried to reconnect, catching each other up on the recent happenings in our lives. He told me about an op-ed he wrote for The Wall Street Journal and talked about his favorite economists, like Ludwig von Mises and Frédéric Bastiat. I told him about how they opened a Trader Joe’s in my neighborhood, and I’d already purchased a case of three-buck Chuck.

3 Responses to “Mark Spitznagel Uses a Chokehold to Teach His Brother About Mises”

  1. Transformer says:

    “I’d already purchased a case of three-buck Chuck”

    There’s unreported inflation for you – a year or so ago didn’t they used to call that “two-buck chuck”: ?

    • Rick Hull says:

      Motel 6, Super 8, yada yada

    • Matt M -Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

      Heh, I made this point very loudly to everyone within earshot when it happened at my Trader Joe’s a couple years ago. But indeed, you are correct, it was initially known as two-buck chuck, and is now three-buck chuck.

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